Tag: melbourne

Ireland’s Laura Corrigan set for women’s AFL debut

Sunday will be a historic day for one Irish Banshee as Cavan woman Laura Corrigan Duryea is expected to debut for Melbourne football club in their opening round women’s AFL game against Brisbane Lions.  She has big boots to fill having been given the same number 11 jumper worn with such pride by Melbourne hero and Irishman Jim Stynes. But Laura herself has many of Jim’s attributes and will be a fine representative of the Melbourne footy club.

Interest in the new women’s competition has already reach unprecedented heights as the opening game between Collingwood and Carlton on Friday night say 24,500 fans turnout with several thousand more locked out as the ground was at capacity.  Watch all the women’s games live and free at this link watchafl.afl.com.au. All at ARFLI wish Laura the best of luck for Sunday’s game and the season ahead.


For more detail on Laura selection read the article below that appeared recently in the Irish Times

Laura Corrigan’s story, or at least its beginning, is a familiar one.

Like many footballing backpackers she reached for the obvious touchstone when she landed in the Melbourne suburb of St Kilda’s nine years ago. The Cavan midfielder, who had already taught PE in Dublin and was the winner of two Ulster intermediate medals, only planned to stay a year Down Under yet immediately joined the local GAA club.

Today she’s still living the dream: newly-wed (her married name is Duryea) and living in Mornington Peninsula, an hour south of Melbourne in wine country, just a block away from the beach and a world away from her native village of Milford, near Belturbet.

So far, so Irish Down Under reality TV script.

The unique part of her story is that she’s about to become part of Australian sporting history.

The inaugural “professional” women’s Australian Football League (AFLW) kicks off in February and Corrigan is the only Irish player involved.

She’s playing for football giants Melbourne, who have even allocated her the 11 jersey, a treasured number locally thanks to the club’s deceased Irish legend Jim Stynes.

Almost six feet tall, Corrigan quickly took to the local game, helped, she admits, by her natural physicality which sometimes got her in trouble when she played for Drumlane and Erne Gaels.

“I got a few yellow cards in my day. Growing up in a village full of boys didn’t help because I originally played the boys’ rules. When I was coming out here everyone said ‘oh you’ll have to play that Aussie Rules, it’s a game that’s made for you!’”

She’d actually picked up a six-month ban before she left for “a bit of an altercation with a referee” after taking umbrage at his addition of 11 minutes of added time in a county semi-final.

“I’d booked to go away anyway but you know what the rumours would be like: ‘Ah she’s going to Australia because she was banned!’” she adds with a chuckle.

“I played Gaelic here initially and then met a girl who suggested I’d be good at Aussie Rules. At that stage I thought I was only going to be here for a year so I thought ‘Stuff the Gaelic, I can play that when I go home.’”

International tournaments

Corrigan started in footie with the University of Melbourne but then joined premier Victorian Women’s Football League (VWFL) side Diamond Creek and has played in seven Australian Grand Finals to date, one of which the team won.

She has also played for the Irish Banshees, a representative team who play in women’s footie’s international tournaments.

She has returned to GAA (with Melbourne club Sinn Féin) in the past two years and there have been Sundays where she has played both codes for her two clubs, which are 40 minutes apart.

But right now she’s immersed in the nascent professional women’s Australian Football League (AFL) against pretty big odds.

Clubs scouted the existing state leagues but also set up academies to recruit and fast-track elite athletes from other sports.

Corrigan, who turned 33 in December, was listed in the official draft last November but while 14 of her Diamond team-mates were picked, she wasn’t.

Yet every franchise had three “free picks” during the subsequent free agency period so she got on the phone and started calling clubs.

Melbourne’s head of women’s operations, Debbie Lee, against whom Corrigan had played, liked her skills and chutzpah and forwarded her tapes onto their coach, Mick Stinear. Within 24 hours they had signed her as defensive cover.

“It was amazing! I got the call in the car on the way to work and thought: ‘What? I have to go and teach now?’” she recalls.

Club rosters are 27 strong, with only 22 players selected each week for the 16-a-side games. Corrigan’s priority now is making those game-day panels and Melbourne’s historic opener is at home to Brisbane Lions on February 5th.

“The women’s AFL wasn’t meant to happen until 2020 but the growth in the game is so huge they brought it forward,” she explains.

New teams

Of Australia’s registered club footie players 27 per cent (380,041) are now women and 354 new teams were established last year, a jump of 19 per cent. The 2016 televised women’s Allstar game drew an average audience of 746,000.

The inaugural season (February-March) involves just eight clubs with seven games each and the top two to a straight Grand Final.

To maximise audience potential, the women’s Australian Football League (AFLW) has been timed to fill the vacuum after the Australian Open tennis and T20 cricket. That means live TV coverage but playing in the white heat of summer.

Pay rates have also been questioned.

Average AFL salaries are $300,000 but the initial base pay for the women’s admittedly shortened and part-time league was just $5000, which improved marginally after a “#bootsoff” social media campaign – so-called because female players don’t automatically get free boots.

Players such as Corrigan will now get the base-rate of $8,500 (€6,000) with a reported $25,000 (€17,600) for marquee players. This is tied to a contract maximum of nine hours a-week collective training but doesn’t account for players’ additional voluntary training.

Pre-season and training camps coincided with Corrigan’s summer holidays and she has taken a year’s leave from her primary school job in the city with the hope of picking up some substitute teaching locally when the league finishes.

Melbourne’s women share gym facilities with the club’s male stars and will play their home games in Casey Fields, home to the club’s second men’s Victorian Football League team.

“I never imagined anything like this would happen,” she says.

“I always tried out for the state team and played a bit of country ‘metro’ and representative footie here, but I never thought I’d make it to this. With the timing and my age I really thought I’d missed the boat. You pinch yourself some days, it’s unreal!”

Review of Warriors IC Grand Final

Heartbreak for BluMarine Irish Warriors as PNG gain sweet revenge

Report by John Corrigan

The BluMarine Irish Warriors suffered a heart breaking three point loss in the grand final of the 2014 International Cup at the MCG on Saturday August 23rd. Following an epic contest the Warriors went down to a skilful Papua New Guinea Mosquitoes outfit despite leading for virtually the entire contest. Two late goals by the Mosquitos saw them take the title for the first time since 2008, gaining sweet revenge having lost to Ireland in the previous final in 2011.

Full of speed and slick skills the PNG outfit dominated possessions and inside 50 entries for long periods but without a tall presence in the forward line were unable to make it show on the score board. Ireland in contrast were led in attack by tournament best and fairest winner Mick Finn who kicked 3 goals in the first quarter and four in total. Ireland’s full forward Padraig Lucey was equally impressive in the air but failed to take full advantage on the score board,  kicking 1 goal 4 behinds with two out on the full.

The Warriors started the game in the ascendency with David McElhone running off half back and Muiris Bartley winning plenty of ball. Following a free kick for a high tackle Finn shot truly for the opening goal. Joseph Peni was heavily involved for the Mossies but he could do little to stop Finn as he took a huge contested mark from Pauric Smith’s pass. Finn scored his second major from the resulting kick and his third followed swiftly as he chased down and tackled a PNG defender.

PNG started to gain a foot hold in the match as their dynamic ruckman John Ikupu began to have a huge influence. Crucially they managed to get on the score board at the death of the first quarter.  Gregory Ekari found Jeconiah Peni who went back and kicked an excellent goal after the siren off a slight angle from 48 meters.

Continuing their newly found momentum the Mossies kicked two behind to open the quarter with Pena Wingti outstanding off the half back flank. They found reward for their play when Archie Mai kicked the only goal of the quarter with an inspired left foot snap from the pocket following a ball up. The Irish only managed two behinds for the quarter as their forwards were starved of opportunities and the unforced errors began to mount. Lucey took a pack mark and found Padraig Fanning in acres of space. He steadied and shot from 40 meters only to see his shot sail just to the left for a minor score. However despite being under the cosh the Warriors took a narrow five point lead into the long break.

The Warriors knew that they would have to lift their intensity and stick more tackles if they were to remain in front. This they did with renewed vigor but were unable to halt the waves of attack from the PNG army of runners. Ikupu’s influence was coming more pronounced as the Irish defense came under intense pressure. But for an outstanding display from Alan Farrell, who took several incept marks, and the excellent Brendan Browne PNG would have taken command. It was Ireland however who scored the first goal of the quarter. Lucey took another strong mark, played in field to Fanning who in turn found Sean Paul Henry in the pocket. He marked brilliantly and played on to kick a goal and give Ireland a 10 point advantage.

PNG continued to threaten with Peni and Luke Savere controlling midfield. They edged back into the contest with another excellent snap from the boundary as a clean tap in the ruck from Ikupu to Gideon resulted in a fine goal. Savere was at the heart of most of the Mossies go forward ball but the Irish held firm to take slender 3 point advantage into the final break.

PNG got the critical first goal for the fourth quarter; Theo Gavuri, earned a free kick following a high fend off from Wayne Reilly, found Brendan Beno on the lead who slotted it through. With Farrell again reading the game superbly and Gerard Johnston to the fore, Ireland powered forward. Player coach David Stynes received a free kick and found Finn who crashed the pack to mark strongly. He proved his class once again to kick a vital goal from 45 meters to increase Ireland’s narrow advantage.

PNG reacted by lifting their running game to new level, looking to play on at all times and use their pace to stretch the Irish defence. The Warriors hung on desperately as the Mossies continued to dominate possession. Ikubu was everywhere, winning the ruck contests despite giving up a height advantage and taking mark after mark across the field. Eventually the pressure told as Ikubu drifted forward to take a spectacular mark in from the side of a contest. He kicked it straight over the goal umpires head from 15 meters to see PNG take the lead for the first time with only 4 minutes left on the clock.

With Ireland pushing forward Scott Johnson found himself all alone with ball in hand. He picked out Beno who had his arms chopped, only 15 meters from goal. His simple goal brought the lead to 9 points which proved too much for the Irish despite Lucey’s late goal.

Time ran out for the Warriors and the final siren provoked wild celebrations from the PNG players, staff and vocal supporters. Their superior running game and an ability to impose their game style on the opposition saw them run out worthy winners. Ikupu was deservedly awarded the medal for best on ground for his outstanding all round display.

While the Warriors will no doubt be proud of their intensity and work rate, unforced errors, missed tackles and turnover ball proves costly as the growing pressure on the back line eventually told. With an average age of just 21 the fitness and work rate of the PNG side eventually told but there were pushed to the limit by the Warriors. The Irish were devastated at the climax but can feel immense pride having come so close to doing what no other country has managed, retain the International Cup.

PNG:       1.2   2.5    3.8   6.9   (45)

Ireland:    3.2   3.4   4.5   6.6   (42)


PNG: Beno 2, Ikupu, Gideon, So-ong, Agita

Ireland: Finn 4, Henry, Lucey.


PNG: Ikupu, Beno, Simon, Guvuri, Peni

Ireland: Finn, Farrell, McElhone, Henry, B Browne


Watch a full replay of the game here http://www.afl.com.au/global/aflic14/streaming


AFL Media photos

2014 International Cup Grand Final - Ireland v PNG
Ireland captain Mick Finn
2014 International Cup Grand Final - Ireland v PNG
Padraig Lucey
2014 International Cup Grand Final - Ireland v PNG
Gerard Johnston
2014 International Cup Grand Final - Ireland v PNG
player/head coach David Stynes
2014 International Cup Grand Final - Ireland v PNG
Ronan Geraghty


John Corrigan photos

013 026 045067

Match Report: Blu Marine Irish Warriors v Fiji

Report courtesy of www.worldfootynews.com

In the end, this result came down to a simple philosophy enacted in bright sunshine and light winds at the McAlister Oval. The Irish Warriors simply did everything better on the day. The basic three skills – kicking, marking and handballing – were just executed better all day by the Warriors and that was enough for them to grind out a tough win against a very willing opponent.

Initially the game featured the higher skill level of the Irish up against the speed of the Fijians. But the tempo changed when a nasty incident saw one Irish player poleaxed in a crude tackle, leading to a red card send off for the Fijian player. From then the 17 man Tribe squad faced an uphill battle. The Irish players managed to then find space and were cleaner with the ball. They were also winning in the ruck with Padraigh Lucey and Paul O’Halloran just too tall for their opponents and giving Ireland first use of the ball again and again.

The second quarter saw the solid Irish defence holding firm as the Fijians fought back into the game. In a scrappy affair, the rebounding Fijian defenders Dylan Wolfgramm and Maciu Raida set up more run and the Fiji team got back to within a goal. However, they were having trouble containing Irish forward Mick Finn and the Irish banged home a couple of goals to go to the half time break well clear.
The Warriors dominated early possession in the third quarter, and maintained tremendous forward pressure. The Tribe defence still held up admirably, but the dam wall was showing cracks and the Irish steadied to extend their lead by three quarter time.

Fiji managed the first three inside 50’s of the final quarter and there was just a small hint of a Fiji comeback. But a fast break from defence by Ireland saw the ball finally wrenched out of the Fijian attacking zone and the tempo changed. Whilst the Irish did not score from the move, it changed the momentum and from there the Irish cruised comfortably to the line, winning in the end by 52 points.

Ireland: 2.1 4.2 7.6 9.8 (62)
Fiji: 0.1 1.2 1.2 1.4 (10)
Ireland: Finn 3, McCloskey 1, Joyce 1, Leavy 1, Tubridy, Faning, Henry
Fiji: Koroi

Best players
Ireland: Finn, O’Regan, Tubridy, Geraghty, Browne, Skelly, O’Halloran, 
Fiji: Wolfgramm, Vunitabua, Valetri, Vateeitei, Raida, Ratu